Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
(Right to left) Mina Malik, Betty Lugo, Gregory Lasak, Councilman Rory Lancman, Melinda Katz and Tiffany Caban at a Monday forum.

Judge Gregory Lasak was confronted by a fellow Democrat for his reputation under the unofficial appellation of “Mr. Murder” during some of his tenure serving in the Queens district attorney’s office at a Monday night candidates forum.

Mina Malik squared off against Lasak near the end of the forum at Sunnyside Community Services not only regarding his nickname but challenged the Lasak’s claim that he created a unit for identifying wrongly convicted individuals.

“Judge Lasak, you were the number three in the office of the Queens district attorney. Your nickname was Mr. Murder,” Malik said followed by murmurs throughout the auditorium. “Your nickname was Mr. Murder, it’s in the newspaper I believe, and you said that you started a ‘wrong man unit.’ I was in the office for 15 years, I never heard of the ‘wrong man unit.’ So my question is, that with your record, why are you talking about progressive criminal justice reform when you were in the office for 25 years, as the number three, nicknamed Mr. Murder and supposedly the head of the ‘wrong man unit,’ how can the public to trust you to implement criminal justice reform?”

Lasak said the first time he had ever heard himself referred to by the name was in the headline of a New York Times Sunday special spread.

“I’ve been called other things, but not Mr. Murder,” Lasak responded. “You can trust me because when it was not popular, before anyone had ever thought of the term ‘conviction integrity unit,’ I was working on wrongfully convicted, or arrested and indicted men’s cases for a long, long time. I didn’t start any unit, as you know [late District Attorney Richard Brown] never wanted to form a unit. You know that, you know that. I never said I started a unit. You were there, I was your boss. We worked in the Special Victims Unit.”

Lasak further argued that he had worked on wrongful convictions quietly with 20 other men and that there was no official unit.

Lasak boasts over 40 years of experience, a flex none of his six other opponents in the primary race can match, but has recently challenged Borough President Melinda Katz’ ability to lead the large office having no prosecutorial experience apart from being an attorney.

Challenges against one another’s track record has not been solely confined to Lasak, Malik and Katz.

Jose Nieves, who has worked as a prosecutor for 18 years, has twice questioned Tiffany Cabán’s seemingly humble seven years in the court room as a public defender.

Lasak, Malik, Katz, Rory, Cabán and Nieves all made the June 25 ballot alongside Councilman Rory Lancman and prosecutor Betty Lugo.

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